Huntington Beach, Calif. - Golden West men's water polo (25-3, 7-0 OEC) won their 34th consecutive Orange Empire Conference Championship.
After yet another historically great regular season, the Rustlers entered the OEC championship bracket as the #1 seed. For their first game, Golden West faced off against the Cypress Chargers. The Rustlers jumped out ahead early and quickly and did not allow the Chargers to threaten. By halftime, the Rustlers were up by ten, 12-2.
The Golden West offense continued with their scoring as they finished the victory, 22-8. Colin O'Niel was tied for the most goals with Vincent Labonte at three apiece. Antonio Doria helped the Rustlers control possession with four steals and four assists. With the win, Golden West advanced to the OEC Championship.
In the championship game, the Rustlers competed against a familiar opponent. Saddleback would meet Golden West in the final game to determine the Orange Empire Conference title. The two teams met twice in the regular season prior to the conference championship. In October, the Rustlers defeated the Bobcats both times for a 8-6 conference win and a 8-7 double overtime tournament victory.
Though their first two meetings were close in the end, Golden West was in control for the OEC Championship matchup. The Bobcats were first to score, but that advantage was the only lead they held for the rest of the game. At halftime, the Rustlers were up 6-3 with 16 minutes away from the conference championship title.
Golden West continued to grow their lead and held Saddleback scoreless in the final frame. The Rustlers went on to win their third game against the Bobcats on the year and the Orange Empire Conference Championship, 10-5. Tomas De Luca led in goals with three scores off of six shots and stole the ball once. Cody Chastain managed to score twice as he also recorded a steal. In net, Pablo Souza saved 13 Saddleback shots to lead his team to victory.
The Rustlers earned their 34th consecutive OEC title and will continue their playoff run in the SoCal Regional Championships. Golden West is ranked #1 in the SoCal bracket and in the entire state.
NEXT UP: Golden West will compete in the SoCal Regional Championships on Friday, November 10th. The championship tournament will be played at Citrus College with game times and opponents to be announced.